Police arrested four people Thursday on suspicion of causing the death of a 36-year-old woman by beating her during so-called religious training of a group linked to the AUM Shinrikyo cult, and two others for allegedly hiding evidence.
The four include Yuko Kitazawa, 40, leader of the group called Keroyon, and Masataka Fujibayashi, 35, a former AUM member. They allegedly inflicted fatal injuries on the woman by beating her with a bamboo sword on Sept. 10 at an apartment in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward, according to the police.
The beating was supposed to remove the victim’s “bad karma,” the police said.
The victim was a member of the Keroyon group, which is composed mostly of former AUM members.
The two other members were arrested on suspicion of moving the woman’s body to hide evidence.
Fujibayashi reported to a police station after the incident came to light in late September and told the police the woman died after being beaten with a bamboo sword during training, according to the police.
The police said they found five boys during a search Thursday of 13 places associated with Keroyon, and asked a child consultation center to take the boys into custody.
AUM renamed itself Aleph in January 2000 in an effort to distance itself from its criminal image, but it remains under surveillance by the Justice Ministry’s Public Security Intelligence Agency.
Senior AUM members have been convicted for a series of crimes, including the 1995 sarin attack in the Tokyo subway system.
Keroyon follows the teaching of AUM founder Shoko Asahara although the group is engaged in separate activities from AUM, according to the agency.